Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Preparing for Your Field Trip

Review these guidelines before booking your field trip to the Gilder Lehrman Collection.

Make a reservation: Fill out the form on the Book Your Field Trip page of our website. We will contact you by email to confirm the details of your visit. 

Payment: Upon confirmation of your visit, you will receive a contract noting the amount due for your visit. Payment must be received in order to secure your preferred time and day. You may pay via credit card or check payable to the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. If paying via credit card, select "Collection Visit: in the Payment Type field and note that it is for a student field trip in notes.

Cancellation: Please contact us as soon as possible if you need to reschedule your visit. If you cancel more than five days before your visit, we will charge a $100 cancellation fee and refund the rest of your payment. There are no refunds for workshops canceled less than five days before the workshop.

Arrival: The Gilder Lehrman Institute’s Collection is located at the New-York Historical Society at 170 Central Park West. Use the entrance on 77th Street near the Frederick Douglass statue. Plan to arrive ten minutes before the start of your presentation. 

What should the students bring: Just their curiosity. We will supply everything else they need.

Coats, bags, and other bulky materials: We prefer that you leave backpacks at school or on the bus. We will ask students to place coats and bags in a large bin reserved for these items. We are not responsible for any lost, damaged, or stolen items.

Food: We do not allow food or drinks in our presentation room. Please leave all food and drinks on the bus or in the students’ bags.

Preparing students for their visit: Let students know that this is a unique opportunity to go behind the scenes and see real documents. It is also an interactive session that encourages discussion. During the presentation, students will be asked to

  • Share their ideas and interpretations
  • Ask questions
  • Be respectful of others
  • Raise their hand before speaking
  • Use an appropriate voice level

Timing and group size: Unless otherwise noted in your confirmation email, all presentations last 90 minutes. We can accommodate groups of up to 30 students and require 1 adult chaperone for every 10 students.

Photography: We allow visitors to take non-flash photographs during the presentation. We leave it up to the teacher to decide if students are allowed to use cameras or phones to take photographs.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute occasionally takes photographs during our workshops for use on our website, brochures, and/or annual reports. Please let us know if your students cannot be photographed.

Once inside, you will be greeted by a staff member who will guide you to our office on the lower level. Students will line up in pairs and stay to the right side of the stairwell.

If you have any other questions, please email Sandra Trenholm at trenholm@gilderlehrman.org.